This week a new edition of the European Champions League begins, although with an undertone of sadness as for the first time in 20 years this competition will not have two of its best footballers of all time, we are talking about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
With the Argentine and Portuguese stars in the MLS and Saudi Arabia respectively, the old continent has lost two of the best football players of all time.
At the same time, for the first time in two decades, there will be neither a Portuguese nor an Argentine in the Champions League. The last time this event took place was in the 2002/03 edition and since then they have seen one game or another every year.
The first to debut in this type of scenario was Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2003/04 season, debuting in the Manchester United jersey on October 1, 2003, in what would amount to a 1-2 defeat against Stuttgart.
Since then, the Portuguese has scored 183 goals in 19 seasons, wearing the jerseys of United, Real Madrid and Juventus, scoring 141 goals and lifting the trophy five times.
A year later the opportunity would arise for Lionel Messi. On December 7, 2004, the Argentine played his first game in the top European competition in a duel between Barcelona and Shakhtar Donetsk and suffered a 2-0 defeat in the last game of the group stage.
From that date to today, Leo has made 163 appearances, scored 129 goals while playing for the Spanish team and France’s PSG, and won the trophy four times.
Two decades later, neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Messi will be part of the Champions League, which begins in the second half of 2023. There is also Neymar, a great player in the last few years of the Champions League.